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Downward wage rigidity and job mobility


  • Thomas Cornelißen
  • Olaf Hübler



Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) we study whether being individually affected by downward wage rigidity has an effect on layoffs, quits and intra-firm mobility. Within a structural empirical model we estimate the individual extent of wage rigidity. This is expressed by the wage sweep-up, which measures by how much individual wage growth increases through the effect of downward wage rigidity when compared to a counterfactual labour market with flexible wage setting. We find robust negative effects of wage sweep-up on quits and layoffs and some evidence for a positive association of wage sweep-up and promotion opportunities. This is consistent with a core-periphery view of the labour force, where a core work force is protected from layoffs and wage cuts and at the same time enjoys good promotion opportunities. On the other side a peripheral work force provides a buffer for adjustment and suffers from both flexible wages, more insecure jobs and less internal promotion opportunities.
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Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Cornelißen & Olaf Hübler, 2008. "Downward wage rigidity and job mobility," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 205-230, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:empeco:v:34:y:2008:i:2:p:205-230 DOI: 10.1007/s00181-007-0118-5

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
    2. Thomas Bauer & Holger Bonin & Lorenz Goette & Uwe Sunde, 2007. "Real and Nominal Wage Rigidities and the Rate of Inflation: Evidence from West German Micro Data," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(524), pages 508-529, November.
    3. Jean-Pierre Danthine & Andre Kurmann, 2004. "Fair Wages in a New Keynesian Model of the Business Cycle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(1), pages 107-142, January.
    4. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
    5. Thanasis Stengos & Louis N. Christofides, 2002. "The symmetry of the wage-change distribution: Survey and contract data," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 705-723.
    6. Magda Kandil, 2005. "Countercyclical or procyclical real wages? A disaggregate explanation of aggregate asymmetry," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 619-642, October.
    7. Assar Lindbeck & Dennis J. Snower, 2001. "Insiders versus Outsiders," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 165-188, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gerlach Knut & Hübler Olaf, 2009. "Employment Adjustments on the Internal and External Labour Market – An Empirical Study with Personnel Records of a German Company," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 229(2-3), pages 198-213, April.
    2. Boris Hirsch & Thomas Zwick, 2015. "How Selective Are Real Wage Cuts? A Micro-analysis Using Linked Employer–Employee Data," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 29(4), pages 327-347, December.
    3. repec:iab:iabzaf:v:41:i:2/3:p:259-285 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Patrick A. Puhani, 2008. "Transatlantic Differences in Labour Markets: Changes in Wage and Non-Employment Structures in the 1980s and the 1990s," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 9, pages 312-338, August.
    5. Stüber, Heiko & Beissinger, Thomas, 2012. "Does downward nominal wage rigidity dampen wage increases?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 870-887.
    6. Puhani Patrick A., 2008. "Relative Demand and Supply of Skills and Wage Rigidity in the United States, Britain, and Western Germany," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 228(5-6), pages 573-585, October.
    7. Bellmann, Lutz & Cornelißen, Thomas & Hübler, Olaf & Pahnke, André, 2008. "Betriebliche Reorganisation, Entlohnung und Beschäftigungsstabilität (Organisational change, wages and job stability)," Zeitschrift für ArbeitsmarktForschung - Journal for Labour Market Research, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 41(2/3), pages 259-285.
    8. Radowski, Daniel & Bonin, Holger, 2008. "Sectoral differences in wage freezes and wage cuts: evidence from a new firm survey," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2008,24, Deutsche Bundesbank.

    More about this item


    Wage rigidity; Wage sweep-up; Quits; Layoffs; Promotions; J31; J63;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs


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